Google readies Duo, Assistant integration as its elevation of Allo continues

But we're still waiting for proper SMS support.

google allo
Derek Walter

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With I/O just around the corner, there are signs that Google is preparing Allo to take a central role in its increasingly convoluted messaging strategy. First, we got chat backups and link previews, then the ability to create custom stickers based on our selfies. But there might be some new changes on the horizon that could elevate it even further.

In their teardown of the most recent APK, Android Police and 9to5Google have uncovered some interesting tidbits that could put Allo in a much more prominent position on Android phones. Most notably, 9to5Google has discovered new buttons in Allo that allow you to place Duo calls right inside the app. According to the code, there will be a Duo icon at the top of all conversations that will initiate a video call when tapped.

However, this doesn’t mean that the two apps, which were unveiled side-by-side at last year’s I/O conference, will be merged. As 9to5Google reports, both you and the recipient will still need to have the Duo app on your phone, with the button merely serving as a shortcut. Still though, it does signal a tighter integration between the two apps, which have thus far operated independently of each other.

Elsewhere, Android Police has discovered a new method for adding people to a group chat. Instead of selecting their name in your contact list, you can share a link or a unique QR code that people can scan right inside the app to bring them into the conversation.

Also, one of Allo’s most frustrating deficiencies seems to be cured. Apparently the next version of Allo will finally integrate with Google Assistant, so you can ask to send a message with an app other than Android Messages and Hangouts.

While these features have yet to be turned in in the newest version Allo, you can stay current by side-loading the latest Google-signed APK from APKMirror.

Something to talk about: Allo was promising when it was unveiled at I/O 2016, but a year later, it still doesn’t have enough to make it our primary messaging app. While the changes Google has made here are certainly interesting, there’s still one that we need before we can consider making it our primary messaging app: proper SMS support. But with such a flurry of activity around Allo recently, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Google delivers it at I/O 2017.

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